The French Riviera, also known as the Côte d’Azur, is a spectacular region located along the southeastern coast of France. With its stunning beaches, glamorous towns, and scenic vistas, it’s no wonder that this area has become a top destination for those seeking luxury and relaxation.
In addition to its stunning scenery and world-class amenities, the French Riviera is also known for its delicious cuisine. Visitors can sample fresh seafood, local cheeses, and of course, the famous rosé wine that the region is known for. Here is our suggestion for a Perfect Week on the French Riviera, but there are countless other options to consider…
One of the most popular towns in the region is Saint-Tropez, which is known for its high-end shopping, chic restaurants, and lively nightlife. Visitors can stroll along the harbor and admire the yachts, or relax at one of the many beach clubs that line the shore.
Another must-visit destination in the French Riviera is Cannes, which is famous for its annual film festival. The town is also home to some of the most exclusive hotels and restaurants in the world, making it a perfect place for a luxury villa stay.
Of course, no trip to the French Riviera would be complete without a visit to Nice. This vibrant city is the largest in the region and offers a wide range of attractions. Visitors can stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais, explore the colorful Old Town, or visit one of the many museums and galleries.
1. A visit to Grasse, the perfume capital
2. A visit to Toulon, Cannes or Nice
3. Heading inland for winery visits and tasting the famous “Rosé Côte de Provence” of the region
4. Shopping in the Provencal Markets and selection tasty products of the terroir
5. A game of “Boules” at apéritif time
You will be greeted at the villa and welcomed to your “home in France”. Bienvenue sur la Côte d’Azur! Immerse yourself, inhale deeply, and adjust your clock to South of France Time: where siestas are encouraged, where petanque is played during aperitif, and where observing people at a café is a legitimate pastime. Don’t take my word for it, give it a try and see for yourself how well it works.
In spite of its compelling history as a Greek, Roman and Genoese trading post and fishing hub, St. Tropez now evokes images of glitter and suntans, rather than invasion and commerce. The artists and bohemians who discovered the place in the 50s were followed by several film stars, most gorgeously Brigitte Bardot, and now the town is a magnet for all those who are drawn to the good life. To cater to their every whim, a number of serious designers, and many non-serious ones, have installed boutiques here and a whole day can be spent shopping.
One highlight of St. Tropez is the lush and plentiful market in the Place des Lices, which sells antiques once a week as well as everything edible. Another must is an ice cream stop on the harbor side, where you can sample any number of homemade flavors as you watch the passing parade of beautiful people, and have a front-row view into the multi-story mega yachts drawn up along the quay, their gold-plated gangways poised to receive their glamorous guests.
If you want to get away from all this for a moment, you can make your way to the eastern or the southern side of the headland, where there are still some wild patches and quieter beaches, as well as the famous Plages Tahiti and Pampelonne. For art aficionados, the Musée de l’Annonciade is a great stop, featuring works by Paul Signac, Braque, Matisse, Utrillo, Van Dongen, Bonnard and Dufy.
Further along the coast is St. Maxime, a less touristy and more charming town than St. Tropez. It’s worth stopping here on Thursday mornings for the craft market, Fridays for collectibles and antiques, and every day at the covered market for the freshest local flowers and food.
If you’re a fan of hiking, you’re in for a real treat with the “Sentier du Littoral.” This coastal path was designed exclusively for pedestrians and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean coastline. The path winds through the protected hills overlooking the sea, providing a sensory experience you won’t forget. On one side, you’ll be greeted by the enticing scent of Provencal aromas, while the waves of the sea and the breathtaking turquoise waters provide a soothing soundtrack. You can also cool off with a swim at one of the beautiful beaches along the way. The best part of this trail is that you can choose your own adventure, with multiple starting locations, varying levels of difficulty, and different types of scenery. We highly recommend taking the “Sentier” of the Croix-Valmer, which takes you from beach to beach.
If your preference leans towards biking, let us arrange a guided bike tour for you. Today you will discover some of the Côte d’Azur’s most beautiful landscapes. There is truly nothing like road riding in Europe, especially in France. The roads are quiet and scenic. The drivers are respectful. And every few miles there is a shop, cafe or restaurant where you can get supplies or a bite to eat.
Today you will embark on a tour of the interior of the Côte d’Azur, first heading north to the lovely and historic village of Draguignan. Here you can stretch your legs with a wander through the town’s picturesque avenues lined with plane trees, and marvel at the ancient houses with their sculptured doors and impressive portals.
You will then continue north to the spectacular Gorges du Verdon, where the Verdon River cuts 2300ft into the rock and empties into the Lac Ste. Croix below. The narrow gorge roads cling to both the north and south edges of the canyon and a variety of walks and descents to the river and the canyon floor are possible.
After enjoying a day of hiking, kayaking, or a pedalo workout in the stunning Verdon Gorge and snapping some breathtaking photos, you’re sure to work up an appetite. For an unforgettable meal, we suggest heading further north to Moustiers-Ste. Marie, one of the most beautiful villages of France located at the western end of the gorge. Here, you’ll discover La Bastide de Moustiers, a restaurant owned by renowned chef Alain Ducasse. In this charming country setting, you can indulge in regional specialties that will leave your taste buds wanting more.
After a first few busy days of exploring, take a full day to relax at the villa, lounge by the pool, read your favourite book or perhaps unwind with a restorative massage. France has long been associated with a healthy way of life and what better way to appreciate this lifestyle than to have a masseur relieve any tension you may have brought with you!
You and your guests will have the honor of learning some tasty secrets of authentic French cuisine from an expert chef in your own home! Gather around the kitchen for the lesson and then most importantly, to sample the finished product! Come with a pen, a good appetite and a curious mind.
After your lesson, your Chef will prepare some additional items to accent your meal, before you sit down to dine on your creations in the comfort of your own villa.
Today you will explore some of the Côte d’Azur’s natural beauty on a trip to the Iles d’Or. The only way to get there, naturally, is by sea!
Start your day in Hyeres, a charming medieval village, gathering delicious snacks at the local market, before heading to the port of Giens – La Tour Fondue, to catch the ferry. Les Iles d’Or are actually a continuation of the Giens Peninsula, and the archipelago consists of 3 small islands: Porquerolles, Port Cros and Le Levant. Take a picnic and your bathing suit and follow the coastal paths for a day of discovering ruined forts, natural beauties and stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Alternately, taking a cruise on a sailboat is another great way to see the islands, and is a very Côte d’Azur thing to do! Speak to your Villa Specialist about arranging a boat ahead of time.
After a day of sun and sea, come home to an authentic French meal, prepared for you by one of our Regional Chefs. This meal will be representative of typical French starters, main dishes, and desserts. The various chefs that we have used in our many years of hosting stays in this region has given us the advantage of finding the perfect one: one who creates delicious masterpieces, as well as communicates the secrets to you, our guests. Take time to relax this evening, together with everyone, as you indulge in this special meal prepared just for you, and paired with our finest local wines.
As your time on the Riviera comes to a close, consider what would make for a perfect final day. Would you prefer to spend it relaxing by the pool, indulging in some shopping in St Tropez, or soaking up the sun on the beach? If you feel like exploring a bit further, there are also some great options for day trips to nearby towns.
Start your day early and stop in the lovely port town of Cassis for a drink on a café terrace in its historic center and maybe a swim off its laid-back beach. From here, continue into Marseille – France’s oldest city and a fascinating and energetic blend of old and new.
Pulsing to a sultry southern European tempo, Marseille also reflects a unique fusion of cultures due to its proximity to North Africa. This fusion is best experienced at its thronging street markets, Algerian souk-like bazaars, and fresh-off-the-boat catches splayed along the Vieux Port’s docks at its centuries-old fish market, selling the base ingredients for the local specialty fish stew, bouillabaisse.
While a pleasant day could be spent simply soaking up Marseille’s vibrant energy, there are also many sights well worth a visit, including Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica, the Old Port forts of Saint Jean and Saint Nicolas and the tightly-packed medieval architecture of the Panier district. Marseille is considered to be the cradle of Christianity in Europe and this history is symbolized by the Saint Victor Abbey and the Chateau d’If – an impressive fortress built by Francis 1st off the coast of Marseille, whose history is intimately linked to Edmond Dantes, the famous Count of Monte Cristo envisioned by Alexandre Dumas.
From Marseille, a boat trip to the Calanques – beautiful, fjord-like canyons that jut out into the jewel-blue waters of the Mediterranean – is possible. This protected national park is a unique ecosystem containing over 900 species of plants, and is home to a variety of animals such as foxes, wild boars, lizards, falcons and rabbits. For those who will be spending time in Marseilles prior to or after their villa vacation, a boat journey to the Calanques can also be arranged from the town of Cassis.
The former capital of Provence is an international student town and a brilliant cultural and artistic center. One highlight is the International Opera Festival held during the three first weeks of July, which attracts music lovers from far and wide. The old town, with its heritage of Provencal baroque architecture and charming fountains, has a lovely, historical atmosphere but is still very much alive, as the stately mansions of the 17th and 18th centuries are now home to cafés, tea-rooms, restaurants, shops, art galleries, museums and university departments. A stroll down the Cours Mirabeau – the Champs Elysée of Provincial France – is a must.
The beauty of the countryside surrounding Aix-en-Provence and Mont Ste. Victoire were the main source of inspiration for Paul Cézanne and were immortalized by his paintings. For art lovers, a visit to Cézanne’s studio, filled with his furniture and personal belongings gives you a glimpse into his universe, while a walking tour of his favorite haunts provides insight into his unique vision of Provence.
It’s time to pack up and say “Au revoir” to the villa and the French Riviera. We have a feeling that you’ll be back before too long…